St. Augustine Beach plastic ban in jeopardy

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — St. Augustine Beach may have to roll back its ban on single-use plastics.

The ordinances banning restaurants and shops from giving out single-use plastic straws, bags and containers passed in July.

A Florida appeals court struck down a similar ordinance in Coral Gables, saying it violates a state law that stops local governments from regulating use of the plastics.

“So, so disappointed. There were a lot of people that were working on this effort,” attorney Jane West said.

West was among community members who worked on the St. Augustine Beach ban for three years.

She said after the ordinances passed, the city got a letter from the Florida Retail Federation, threatening to sue.


“Now that they’re armed with this very strong opinion in their favor, the city can’t take the legal risk of getting sued and then having to pay all the attorney fees in defending what is probably going to be a losing case,” West said.

West is hoping one piece of the ordinance will hold up. She said the judge's opinion in Coral Gables didn't mention plastic straws.

Families told Action News Jax they’re disappointed.

“People will just have to be more smart about it and I think they will because they do care about it,” local mom Hanna Kuczinksi said.

West said she believes businesses will continue to work toward being more environmentally friendly.

“It’s important for us as consumers to let those businesses know, ‘Hey, we really appreciate you taking this effort, probably at some cost to you,’” West said. “We can still keep pushing forward, it's just going to have to be a more market-driven approach.”

Action News Jax reached out to the City of St. Augustine Beach and the mayor sent us this statement:

"I don't believe the appellate decision reflects the majority opinion of Fl communities. Even our governor has expressed strong support for local communities' right to regulate Styrofoam and single use plastics; we are the ones who see and feel their impact. Hopefully local businesses will listen to the voice of the people and transition away from Styrofoam and single use plastics. Consumers want to patronize businesses who share their desire to protect our environment from harmful pollutants."

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